NAIROBI, May 19 – Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) boss, Richard Omwela has set national sevens head coach, Felix ‘Totti’ Ochieng a top-ten target for next season to end speculation he would be shown the door after a wretched 2014-15 HSBC World Series where Shujaa flirted with losing Core Status.
And speaking Tuesday upon arrival from the campaign-ending London 7s, the beleaguered coach believes the team deserves a second chance ahead of November’s Africa Rio 2016 Olympics qualifiers in South Africa.
Speaking Tuesday when they arrived from London, Kenya Rugby Union boss, Richard Omwela maintained faith in Ochieng and his technical bench ahead of the new season on condition the team doesn’t finish below the top 10 to end speculation he would be shown the door.
“I’m a great believer in team play; I’ve received calls asking me what I’m going to do. Kenyans have short memories when success is there, where they don’t react and only wait when it gets deeper to push me to fire people left, right and centre. I don’t think I’m going to do so.
“Ochieng took over mid season when the team had some issues with contracts. I believe in him and as a team I believe we have a coach of our own who can lead us to win games,” Omwela who accompanied the team to London where they lifted the Bowl declared.
“As a board we expect results and the entire team is under pressure to deliver on the expectations. We will give him deliverables. Before I came in, his key performance indicator was to make sure we are not relegated, but going to next season as far as I’m concerned we must be always be on the top 10,” he further outlined the job description of the team boss as Kenya slid from seven overall to 13th with 46.
– Mixed emotions-
Ochieng, who led the team to their worst performance in almost a decade, has no plans of changing the squad as he prepares to rebuild the team that will be seeking to qualify for Rio through the continental qualifiers after failing to nail one of the four automatic slots reserved for the World Series.
“It has been a season of mixed emotions, we have had our highs and lows, and I’ve told the boys they should build on the positives picked from the season not only by Collins Injera and Billy Odhiambo, but each and every player.
“Kenya has an opportunity to rebuild next season and get back to its glory. We started with a squad of 29; our plan is to get the best players throughout the country and give them opportunities to showcase their talent those who will stand out will be selected,” Ochieng underscored.
During the off season break; Ochieng will give the Under-21 national team a chance to prove their mettle as he seeks replacements for veteran Humphrey Kayange and fly-half Lavin Asego whom he hinted could retire from the international duty.
“We took over mid-season which was very challenging since were in a care taker position, confidently looking at the performance we believe that we have worked tirelessly to come out with the best.
“If we remove Injera, Andrew Amonde, Asego and Kayange out of the squad of 22, we will still have a higher percentage of younger players. Odhiambo who has broken his personal record in London is only 21 years-old and has played two seasons so we have a very young squad going forward. The fact that they have being playing in the World Series doesn’t mean they are old,” Ochieng explained.
Skipper, Amonde was confident the team will bounce back next season, “It’s been a very long season full of mixed results, It didn’t go our but there is still a chance for us to bounce back and do better next season.
“We need to put this season behind and concentrate on building a team that will be able to represent the country well and that time is now.”